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ANCAP pushes government on road safety policy

Standard raising: Last year ANCAP highlighted how far car safety standards have come by crashing two Toyota Corollas – one new at the time and the other from 1998.

Cars getting too old and government not addressing the issue: ANCAP

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General News logo11 May 2018

By DANIEL DeGASPERI

THE head of the Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) has urged federal and state transport ministers to set a target that will help reduce the average age of vehicles on the road and address rising fatality rates among drivers of older cars.

ANCAP chief executive James Goodwin explained that as the national road toll has increased over three years, so too has the average age of vehicles involved in fatalities – and this trend was unlikely to change without intervention.

“The road toll rising is a dilemma for everyone (and) what we have added to the discussion is that we’re concerned that the age of the vehicle involved in a fatality crash is rising,” Mr Goodwin told GoAuto at an event at the federal government-funded Crashlab facility in Sydney this week.

“We’ve now tracked for three years consistently the age of the vehicle fleet and then the age of vehicles involved in fatality crashes. The first year we did it, the average age of the vehicle fleet was 9.8 years. That stayed the same over the past three years.

“But in that first year (2015) the average age of a vehicle involved in a fatality crash was 12.5 years old. Then it climbed the following year (2016) to 12.9 years old. And it’s now gone up to 13.1 years old (in 2017). So that’s a concern.” The 1209 road fatalities in 2015 also saw an increase of 59 deaths compared with 2014, and it represented the largest annual spike since 1995 (when the road toll soared by 89 to 2017). It then increased again to 1293 in 2016 and lowered only slightly to 1225 last year – still the highest figure in five years.

Vehicles built in 2001 or earlier made up 20 per cent of vehicles on the road, yet had been involved in 36 per cent of fatalities.

Vehicles produced between 2002 and 2006 tallied about the same 22 per cent of vehicles on the road as fatalities, and while those made between 2007 and 2011 made up 27 per cent of registrations, just 13 per cent were involved in a fatality.

Vehicles built from 2012 until 2017 tallied 32 per cent of vehicles yet made up 12 per cent of deaths.

Although more than three million new vehicles flooded the Australian market over that period and almost all with superior safety technology to older vehicles, Mr Goodwin emphasized that “vehicles involved in those serious crashes are getting older”.

“13 years ago you may still be buying a vehicle that doesn’t have side airbags, a 13-year-old ordinary vehicle wouldn’t have electronic stability control (ESC),” he said.

“From an overall strategic policy objective we (government) should actually set a benchmark of what we think is an acceptable average fleet age. So state transport ministers and the federal minister had decided that reducing the fleet age was an important thing that they were going to work on, but they haven’t set a target.

“There are multiple levers and drivers to be able to make this work. There’s no one size fits all and it’s going to take time.

“But until we actually set a goal and a target, then we can’t really do too much on it other than what we’ve already been doing. And that’s really just raising awareness of it.” Mr Goodwin further suggested government intervention could come in the form of incentives for rental or corporate fleet companies to sell near-new stock to L- and P-plate drivers, rather than to auction houses, and said that it was ANCAP’ s role to further facilitate such discussions.

The Australian minister for infrastructure and transport Michael McCormack, and New South Wales minister for roads, maritime and freight Melinda Pavey, have been contacted for comment.

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